Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation
Dorothea Haus Ross
1906 – 2000
Dorothea Haus Ross was born in Harrow, England on August 6, 1906. “Dotsie”, as she was known to her family and friends, was the younger daughter of the late Simon Victor Haus and Anna Noeth Haus of Rochester, New York.
Dorothea and her sister, Georgiana, born in 1903, spent much of their early life in England, where their father was George Eastman’s General Manager for Eastman Kodak Company’s European factories. It was his job to establish new Eastman Kodak plants in Europe and Great Britain.
The sisters, with their mother, made three trips to the United States during World War I. For the last trip back to England, they were set to return on the British ship, RMS Lusitania. Mr. Haus, concerned that the ship carried illegal contraband, and fearing for their safety due to the threat of German submarines, changed his family’s passage to an American-owned vessel. As he had feared, the RMS Lusitania was sunk off the coast of Ireland toward the end of the voyage on which the family had been booked.
Dorothea’s childhood included frequent travel throughout the Continent and numerous trans-Atlantic voyages. She harbored fond memories of this period of her life, which included prolonged stays in Hungary and Austria, where she and her sister were privileged to ride the famous Lipizzaner horses of the Spanish Riding School. Although the family moved back to Rochester, New York, when Dorothea was 15 years old, her life long interest in travel, foreign cultures and the lives of children overseas had been established at this early age.
Dorothea’s charitable interest in children began in 1940, when she observed the plight of English children who were relocated to rural areas or other countries for safety as a result of German bombing raids during the Battle of Britain. Dorothea began supporting displaced and orphaned children through an organization called “Foster Parents International,” which eventually became the NGO “Save the Children.”
Mrs. Ross’ interest in helping alleviate the suffering of children was deepened when she travelled throughout Europe in the immediate aftermath of the war. Her father had returned to help re-start Kodak’s European business operations and, joining him, Dorothea had the chance to see first-hand the massive upheaval and movements of refugees resettling throughout Europe. Alleviating the suffering of children who, as she described later, were ‘vulnerable through no fault of their own’ became the primary goals of her personal philanthropy.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Dorothea had the opportunity to travel widely throughout the world. Together with her husband Richard, she undertook four extensive trips to East Africa, where they had many chances to meet and interact with local Maasai villagers. These encounters generated in Dorothea a deep affection for the people of East Africa and a strong desire to help children there, and elsewhere in the developing world. Closer to home, Mrs. Ross became aware of efforts to improve the lives of Native Americans, and supported activities to help their children.
After decades of active charitable contributions to organizations helping vulnerable children, Mrs. Ross’ long-term friend and attorney Philetus Chamberlain suggested she consider creating a foundation that would be devoted exclusively to problems affecting children. The Dorothea Haus Ross Foundation was established in 1977 to fulfill Mrs. Ross’ lifelong commitment. She became the Foundation’s first trustee and inspirational leader, actively serving as the Board Chairperson until 1991. She died in October 2000 at the age of 94 in Rochester, New York, and has left behind a legacy of commitment to helping the world’s most vulnerable children that continues to this day.